Don't know an ACM from a CMA? Look no further than this guide to country music's most sought after awards. You'll find historical tidbits, predicted air times, and relevant links.
1. CMA Awards
The Country Music Association (CMA) was established in 1958 to promote country music. It held its first awards show in 1968. The ceremonies started being broadcast on television the following year, and continue to be a way for the organization to fulfill its central goal of increasing country music's cultural presence.
Awards Show Held: October or November
Sample Categories: Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year
First Winners: Eddy Arnold (Entertainer of the Year), Jack Greene (Male Vocalist of the Year), Loretta Lynn (Female Vocalist of the Year)
2. ACM Awards
Like the CMA, the Academy of Country Music (ACM) is a promotional organization for country music. While it was the second such group to form, it was the very first to have an awards show -- an annual tradition that began in 1965. Before adopting their current name, the group was known as the Country and Western Music Academy.
Awards Show Held: April
Nominees Announced: February
Sample Categories: Entertainer of the Year, Vocal Event of the Year
First Winners: Buck Owens (Top Male Vocalist) and Bonnie Owens (Top Female Vocalist)
The Country Music Hall of Fame was founded in 1961, and received its own location in 1967, and yet another in 2001. Each year they honor the legends of country music, through a lengthy and highly selective process. The inductees are displayed in the museum's famed rotunda.
Unfortunately for fans, the awards ceremony is an industry-only affair that isn't televised or open to the public.
Founded in 1983, Country Music Television (CMT) became a force to be reckoned with in the 1990s. A down-home alternative to MTV, the channel asserted itself as the top venue for the country music videos -- giving rise, in turn, to a photogenic crop of young singers including Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam. The channel's annual awards show, honoring the best in country music videos, began as the CMT Flameworthy Awards in 2002.
Unlike other awards shows, which are determined by members of their respective organizations, the CMT Award winners are selected entirely by fans.
Awards Show Held: June (formerly April)
Sample Categories: CMT Performance of the Year, Breakthrough Video of the Year
Former Hosts: Pamela Anderson, Jeff Foxworthy, Kid Rock, Bill Engvall
First Winners: Kenny Chesney's "Young" (Video of the Year), Martina McBride's "Blessed" (Female Video of the Year)
In 1970 this Hall of Fame was established to honor the songwriter's craft by the Nashville Songwriters Association. In their first year of existence, the Hall of Fame stocked their coffers with 21 legendary songsmiths. Since then, the organization has inducted at least three songwriters annually.
Awards Show Held: October
Nominees Announced: August
First Inductees: Hank Williams, Fred Rose, Pee Wee King, Ernest Tubb, Merle Travis
6. CCMA Awards
This is Canada's version of ACM and/or CMA Awards (take your pick). Like its sister organizations in the lower 48, the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) is charged with boosting the country-music industry. The CCMA held its first awards ceremony in 1982 -- a late bloomer by U.S. standards. But if you think Canada is on the margins of country music, consider some of the nation's high-powered exports, including Shania Twain, Terri Clark, and K.D. Lang.
Awards Show Held: September
Nominees Announced: July
Sample Categories: Rising Star, Top Selling Album
First Winners: Family Brown (Entertainers of the Year), Terry Carisse (Male Artist of the Year), Female Artist of the Year (Carroll Baker)